District of Iloilo City Proper. Iloilo City Proper, also referred to as ‘downtown’ and ‘ciudad’, is one of the seven districts of Iloilo City and is the second most densely populated district (after Molo). It is the civic center of the city and houses the city and provincial government. It is the current economic and financial center of Iloilo. Its prized gems included the 19th and 20th-century buildings that line up J.M. Basa, popularly referred to as Calle Real.
Iloilo City is a highly urbanized city and the capital of the province. It is the center of the Iloilo-Guimaras Metropolitan Area, and the regional and primate city of the Western Visayas region. It takes pride in its history, culture, and heritage as well as its dynamic and progressive business and economy.
Iloilo City is bordered by Oton in the west, Pavia in the North, and Leganes in the Northeast. it is a conglomerate of former towns, now districts, namely: Villa Arevalo, Iloilo City Proper, Jaro, La Paz, Mandurriao, and Molo.
Iloilo City has been cited as one of the Top Ten Safest Cities in Asia, as well as the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Clean Tourist City Award. The city also takes pride in its accomplishments and national citations: Most Improved Highly Urbanized City, Regional Rank 1 for Resiliency and Government Efficiency, among others.
The metro is deeply rooted in its rich and colorful history highlighted by its churches, ancestral homes, and heritage sites. The city also gave birth to the Dinagyang festival, a world-class cultural event that lures thousands of tourists every year. Apart from that, it is home to the iconic La Paz Batchoy, Pancit Molo, among others.
Plaza Libertad. Plaza Libertad, formerly known as Plaza Alfonso XII, is considered a historic urban park in Iloilo City. It is where the flag of the first Philippine Republic was raised in victory over the Spaniards through the revolutionary forces led by Gen. Martin Delgado on Christmas day, December 25, 1898. After Spain surrendered Iloilo, the city is the last Spanish capital in the Philippines. It ended the 333-hundred-year-old Spanish colonization of the Philippines.
Plaza Libertad is located in front of Iloilo City Hall in Iloilo City Proper. It is one of the six district plazas in Iloilo City. The plaza has been declared a heritage site under Republic Act 10555 or “An Act Declaring the Jaro Cathedral, Molo Church, the Iloilo City Central Business District, Fort San Pedro, Jaro Plaza Complex, Molo Plaza Complex, and Plaza Libertad Complex, all located in the City of Iloilo, as Cultural Heritage Tourism Zone.” This was authored by now City Mayor Treñas, then-Congressman of Lone District of Iloilo City.
San Jose Church. Cited as the first church in Iloilo City, San Jose de Placer Church has witnessed baptisms, weddings, and other milestones of Ilonggos in the City of Love. Built in 1607 by Jesuits, it houses the replica of Santo Niño de Cebu, the patron saint of the Dinagyang Festival, a known festival celebrated every January in Iloilo City. The church is nestled within Plaza Libertad, once known as Plaza Alfonso XII.
Prior to its name, the church was once known as the La Punta. La Punta was built by the Jesuits in 1607 as a support for the military men in the area. In 1617, meanwhile, the Augustinians established a house of the order which they named ‘San Jose’. The Augustinians took stewardship of San Jose Church until 1775 when the church was handed over to secular clergy.
Moreover, in the Order of Saint Augustine website (www.augustiniansphilippines.com), the San Jose Parish was given to them in 1868 in exchange for Jaro which was chosen to be the cathedral of the then-established Diocese (now Archdiocese) of Jaro.